Muslims consider mosques to be the houses of God, the bayt Allah. They are places of worship, sanctuaries, and where Muslim communities come together. The first mosque, which was a modest structure built in 622 in Medina, was the house of the Prophet Mohammed.
Soon after his faith gained political legitimacy, mosques were built wherever Muslims settled, whether in desert landscapes or in historic urban centers. Building a mosque was a sacred trust, dedicated to fulfilling the spiritual needs of the community at large.
Thus, it comes as a shock to most Muslims to hear of the repeated destruction of mosques and shrines by Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State. The latest example, blowing up the 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, which happened Wednesday, is particularly disturbing.
Kishwar Rizvi teaches the history of Islamic art and architecture at Yale University, and is a member of the Council of Middle East Studies at the MacMillan Center. She is a Public Voices Fellow with the Oped Project.
This Op-Ed first appeared on CNN.com.